File photo by Alec Ross, BlackburnNews.com

File Closed On Patio Dancing, Amplified Music Appeals

The book has been closed on a pair of appeals that halted a trial run of amplified music and dancing on bar and restaurant patios in downtown London and Old East Village.

Councillor Jesse Helmer announced on Tuesday the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) won’t hold a hearing on the appeals. The decision was made after the temporary zoning bylaw allowing the change expired on September 30. But with the appeals unresolved, Helmer says trying out a similar pilot project in the future could be difficult.

“If we were to try another pilot we would have to do it way in advance. We would have to make the zoning change very soon, allow for the appeals and the time it takes to have a hearing at the OMB before the pilot actually comes into effect,” says Helmer. “That’s difficult because you have to anticipate how long it will actually take to have an OMB hearing, which can take many months.”

In July, council approved the temporary zoning bylaw amendment that would have allowed amplified music and dancing on patios for a six-week period, ending September 30. The move ruffled feathers of those who prefer a quieter setting with two appeals ultimately being filed with the OMB in August.

Helmer says this, once again, points to weaknesses in implementing this sort of temporary change through the zoning bylaw.

“We have to deal with the issue of why are we regulating amplified music and dancing on patios in the zoning bylaw, rather than just dealing with it through the noise bylaw where it’s more appropriate ,” says Helmer.

Regulating this pilot project under the noise bylaw would not be appealable to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Hemler plans to reintroduce the initiative at council in the near future.

“It’s difficult because I know some of me colleagues wanted to learn from the pilot to see what the effects would be of relaxing the zoning restriction. Now we don’t have that information and will get into a bigger discussion on making the change on a permanent basis,” says Helmer.